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Win the Uphill Battle to Success with Business Funding for Women

Published May 20, 2020

Janet Gershen-Siegel


Success is an uphill battle for all entrepreneurs. But that incline is even steeper if you’re female.

It should come as no surprise that female business owners have a harder time finding funding for their businesses. Only 4 percent of all business loans goes to female entrepreneursVenture funding isn’t much better when it comes to funding women-owned businesses. But that doesn’t mean women can’t succeed in business. From grants to loans, women business owners can fund their businesses and be successful. Success isn’t just a man’s game.

Loans for Women Business Owners


Grameen is one of the few lenders offering microloans specifically for women. These are for women under the poverty line. The loan amounts range from $2,000 to $15,000. Grameen also offers financial training and support.

Furthermore, they report payments to Equifax and Experian.  As a result, these loans can help borrowers build credit. 

Related: 100 Powerful Women in Business

Grants for Women

It should go without saying: all grant programs are highly competitive. Grants are free money that can supplement other funding types. Some examples include:  

SBA Women’s Business Centers

In addition to helping with loans, the SBA Women’s Business Centers can help women entrepreneurs get access to other types of funding. Some lend money or award grants directly. Others help connect women entrepreneurs with financial institutions. Women business owners can also get mentoring and networking opportunities. Educational seminars are available as well.

Amber Grant 

The Amber Grant awards $500 to $1,000 per month to a woman-owned business. One of the recipients also receives an additional $10,000 grant at the end of the year.

Cartier Women’s Initiative Award 

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award offers $100,000 for first place and $30,000 for two runners-up from each region. This award is open to women entrepreneurs both inside and outside the United States. They choose 21 women entrepreneurs for awards, with three finalists per region.

The regions are:

  • Latin America & the Caribbean
  • North America, Europe
  • Sub Saharan Africa
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • East Asia
  • South Asia
  • Oceania

Each finalist gets to attend the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive Program (ISEP) and can also participate in workshops on entrepreneurship, business coaching seminars, and be exposed to networking opportunities. 

Related: Women, It's Time to Take Control

#GIRLBOSS Foundation Grant 

This one is specifically for woman-owned businesses in creative endeavors. The #GIRLBOSS small business grant awards $15,000 semi-annually and also offers exposure via the GirlBOSS social media platforms and website.

Grants are only for current female business owners in the worlds of fashion, design, music and the arts. Startups are not considered. Applicants must identify as female, be U.S. residents, and be 18 years or older by the close of the submission window. 

Eileen Fisher Supporting Women in Environmental Justice

The clothing brand Eileen Fisher hands out $200,000 annually in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $40,000. This is a grant program for 501(3)(c) organizations.

More Non-Financial Support for Women-Owned Businesses

National Women’s Service Council

The NWBC provides advice and policy recommendations to the president, Congress, and the SBA on economic issues of importance to female business owners. They provide data for insights into female entrepreneurs and business owners.

Association of Women’s Business Centers

The AWBC works to secure economic justice and entrepreneurial opportunities for women. It does so by supporting and sustaining a national network of more than 100 Women’s Business Centers.

The National Association for Female Executives

The NAFE provides resources via education, networking and public advocacy to empower its members to achieve career and personal success. The organization's NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women recognizes corporations and nonprofits moving women into top executive positions and creating a culture that identifies, promotes, and nurtures successful women.

Related: How a Great Idea and Just $500 Launched a Powerful Network of Entrepreneurial Women of Color

National Association of Women Business Owners

The NAWBO is a voice for over 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States. Their annual awards honor the accomplishments and contributions of exemplary women leading the way in the women's business community. 


SCORE is the country’s largest network of expert business mentors who volunteer their time. They match female business owners with mentors. Or female entrepreneurs can participate in a workshop to help learn what they need to know to be successful. 

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)

For women who are also veterans, the Veterans Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) is an SBA-funded program. It is provided by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. This program includes online training, a conference for women veterans and female military spouses, and follow-on mentoring via a community of partners.

The best business funding for women is out there. Success is for every gender.



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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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